For thousands of years flowers have been used to create garlands. Many cultures have used garlands to celebrate weddings show love or respect. Although garlands are widely associated with Hawaii they are common in cultures around the world. In ancient Egypt flowers were used as decorations, gifts and funerals adornments. Garlands were found in Tutankhamen’s coffin. The Egyptians used leaves sewn together with flower petals to make their garlands.
The Polynesian voyagers started the Hawaiian tradition of presenting garlands. In Polynesia garlands of flowers were presented to show affection and respect. Hawaiians used flowers, leaves, feathers and shells. Leis also became a symbol of hospitality; visitors arriving by steam boat in the 1800s were greeted with leis. The Hawaiians established Lei Day as an official holiday in 1929. It takes place on May Day and still continues to this day. It is a celebration of lei with music, entertainment and lei making contests.
Flowers are an important part of Hindu weddings, the couple exchange rings and flower garlands, the garlands symbolise their love. The garlands are longer than Hawaiian leis and are often red and white which represents fertility and purity.